Name: Silvia Colucci.
University and degree: PhD: Life Sciences 4-year Doctoral Training Programme, Imperial. She is in her first year (MRes year).
Why did you decide to study a postgraduate degree?
I decided to study a postgraduate degree because I felt it was an essential step in order to pursue a career in scientific research.
What most attracted you to this particular course?
I decided to do a four-year PhD including an MRes because this programme gave me the chance to work in different labs, using new techniques, and meeting different people before choosing my PhD project.
What did your degree entail? Could you mention specific modules you took?
I did a biochemistry degree. The modules in the first two years were very general, for example molecular biology, molecular cell biology, biological chemistry, protein and enzymes, physical biochemistry, and immunology. The final year modules were more specific and I could choose what I preferred. I took cell signalling and protein sorting, cellular neuroscience, bioreactor and bioprocessing technology, biotechnology and business.
Did you write a dissertation and if so, what was it on?
I wrote a dissertation based on an eight-week project. The title of my thesis was ‘Defining which brain cells express the developmentally regulated variable alternative spliced exon (VASE) isoform of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM)’.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced in studying for a postgraduate degree?
The biggest challenge I have faced so far is realising that some experiments just don’t and will never work, and nobody really knows why.
How did you fund your course?
I am funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC)
In what ways do you hope studying for your degree will help you with your career?
I am confident that doing a PhD is the best way to learn how to carry out scientific research. It gives you the chance to learn very useful techniques that are not only relevant to your specific research. It also gives you the opportunity to work with very experienced people who are always there to help you.
What advice do you have for students considering postgraduate study?
I would strongly advise people who are interested in pursuing a scientific career to consider postgraduate study. In particular, I would strongly recommend a programme (like an MRes) which gives them the chance to experience different things before choosing a specific area of interest.